Group pushes anti-slaughter bill; Silver Charm sold to Japan
October 30, 2004
By Marcus Green
magreen@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal  Louisville, KY

C-J File Photo
Silver Charm, seen in 1999, will be sold to the Japan Racing Association to stand the 2005 breeding season, Three Chimneys Farm announced.
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas A group backing a bill to end horse slaughter in the United States took its lobbying to the Breeders' Cup yesterday and defended the measure from critics.

The National Horse Protection Coalition is pushing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban the killing of horses for human consumption.

The measure has been endorsed by much of the racing industry, including Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie and its parent, Magna Entertainment; Churchill Downs Inc., and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

But other equine groups oppose the idea. The American Quarter Horse Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners say they worry that ending slaughter will lead to more neglect and cruelty.

Attention to the horse slaughter market was raised in 2003 after it was reported that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand died in a Japanese slaughterhouse.

Now, owners seek assurances about a horse's future before selling to Japanese farms.

Three Chimneys Farm announced yesterday it is selling 1997 Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm to the Japan Racing Association to stand the 2005 breeding season. But Bob and Beverly Lewis, who own a majority stake in the 10-year-old horse, have the right to buy him back if he is ever sold, "so that we can ensure his well-being," Bob Lewis said in a statement.

The deal also allows Silver Charm to return to Three Chimneys when he's retired.

At Lone Star Park, trainer Nick Zito said the Lewises' requirement for first right of refusal is an example of one way to help track horses abroad.

"I think that's what should have happened a long time ago," said Zito, who has been active in the effort to end horse slaughter.

The bill will be re-introduced when Congress convenes in January, the horse protection coalition said. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., was introduced in early 2003.

Three foreign-owned companies including two in Texas process horses for meat shipped abroad. The coalition claims the Texas plants are violating a state law banning the sale of horse meat for humans.

The American Quarter Horse Association of Amarillo, Texas, opposes the bill and believes slaughter is a humane way to end suffering for unwanted animals, said Tim Case, manager of public policy.

More than 300,000 horses were slaughtered in the early 1990s, but that number fell to about 50,000 last year as world demand for horse meat declined, said Liz Clancy Ross, a horse protection coalition spokeswoman